IGBO APPRENTICESHIP SCHEME

Igbo apprenticeship scheme is an entrepreneurial model where an entrepreneur takes under tutelage an apprentice, and teaches him or her rudiments of a particular trade for an agreed period. On completion, the entrepreneur gives the apprentice seed capital.

The system, also known as ′Igba-Boi, Imu-Ahia or Imu-Oru′, is a framework of formal and informal indentured agreements between parties that ultimately facilitate burgeoning entrepreneurial communities within the Igbos.

Igbo apprenticeship scheme is an economic model, whose purposes are to spur economic growth and stability, and sustainable livelihood by financing and investing in human resources through vocational training.

The Igbo apprentice system is an extension of the entrepreneurial spirit of Ndigbo where an induction strategy is utilized to induct mostly young Igbos into entrepreneurial ventures by established entrepreneurs, popularly referred to as Oga. This venture can be a trade, an enterprise or a vocation and , in some cases, serving also as a domestic help. The Ogas are former apprentices that had served and were handed resources to begin their own enterprises.

This system is informal and has unstructured training programs to learn and master skills required to embark on own enterprise. Various skills are imbibed in the apprenticeship training period. These skills are the technical, management and interpersonal skills. Some of them are Forecasting, Human relationship management, Inventory control and Analysis. They also are tutored to focus on returns on investment to enhance enterprise expansion among many others.

The apprentice scheme begins from the household on identification of the potential entrepreneur skills of a future mentee. It could also be the inability of the household to sponsor further literary education of the mentee, or the truancy of the mentee in following basic household rules and regulations. The family sets out to communicate and search for an entrepreneur to mentor their child. When a match-up is done, a traditional handing-over ceremony is conducted. During the ceremony, the apprenticeship agreements are set and agreed by all parties to remove all instance of ambiguity.

The mentee is offered boarding and is expected to perform household chores as part of the training program. The basic ways of living, according to a mentor’s preference is initiated at this stage. Then mentee is taken to the enterprise location to begin the induction into entrepreneurship. The completion of the entire program is typified by attaining the pre-agreed scholarship period. The mentor offers the mentee capital for a start-up subject to the mentee’s efficiency and commitment during the scholarship and the financial capacity of the mentor. This is usually done in presence of the mentee’s people who host a small ceremony to mark the occasion. This stage sums the entire learning process and begins the innovation process. The essence of settlement is to initiate potential entrepreneurs into the entrepreneurship journey. Sometimes, mentors establish a little innovation, sort of extension or an outlet for their enterprise for the mentee to control under a close watch while they operate others. This is significant to enterprise growth and expansion.

There is a mutual benefit to the approach. In terms of the mentees, they learn skills and benefit from rewards in the end of the contract. Again, the mentor expands its enterprise using their mentees. The circle continues to revolve in view of the fact that mentees graduate to mentors and absorb mentees. The disadvantage is that the apprenticeship system has low age and educational entry barrier and lacks formal training and certifications. Again, lack of teaching skills by most masters or ‘Ogas’ deter pupils from apprentice training completion. There is also lack of guaranteed access to start-up funding after apprentice training completion due to economic conditions. Notably, apprenticeship system is not only for persons from poor households and it is not for those who are unable to cope with formal education